Chapter 1: How this Dialogue Began by G.W.H. Lampe
University teachers find themselves invited from time to time to emerge from their lecture rooms and place some of the results of their thinking before much wider audiences. In the case of the members of a Faculty of Divinity this often takes the form of an invitation to occupy a pulpit or to deliver an address in a broadcasting studio; sometimes to use both these media by broadcasting a sermon preached in church.
At Easter, 1965, I attempted to present the ‘good news’ of Christ’s Resurrection to a mass audience through a televised sermon delivered at a service of Holy Communion in a great parish church. In the evening of the same day this sermon was the subject of a discussion in the B.B.C.’s program, ‘Meeting Point’, in which I was questioned by some members of the morning congregation under the chairmanship of Canon W. E. Purcell, editor of this Dialogue, and at that time the Religious Broadcasting Organizer for the Midland Region of the B.B.C. This discussion evoked a very large correspondence which did not entirely cease until nearly the end of the year.
At a late stage in this correspondence my colleague in the Cambridge Faculty of Divinity, Professor D. M. MacKinnon, wrote me a valuable letter critically questioning me about the views which I had expressed. Some years previously, he, too, had broadcast on the subject of the Resurrection. This had taken the form of a meditation, broadcast in the Third Program, and hence, of course, intended for a quite different audience from that to which my sermon had been addressed. In the course of conversations between us, arising out of his letter to me and my reply to it, it occurred to us that it might be useful to publish a dialogue about the foundation stone of our common faith. We have, therefore, taken our respective broadcasts as our theme, and have commented on them in relation to each other. We have not attempted to imitate the style of direct conversation, but our respective contributions have been discussed between ourselves, and we have taken account of views which we have expressed in talking to one another.
Those who undertake an honest search for truth in a matter of deep Christian concern must expect to arouse strong feelings. Our object, however, is not to engage in controversy. Our views differ in certain highly important respects, and in our comments we have naturally concentrated our attention on these points of difference, and tried to explain our reasons for them. Our statements, however, are by no means antithetical, and we are not trying simply to score points for and against them. We hope, rather, that they may be complementary, and that by setting out our views side by side in a popular rather than a technically theological fashion we may jointly contribute somewhat more towards the understanding of the Easter gospel than we could achieve separately.